Friday, April 10, 2009

Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten II

Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten. Self Portrait, ca. 1647.

This self-portrait of such alarming alacrity should give any astute viewer a glimpse into the very soul of a young Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten (this painting was done at a mere 16 years of age!), prior to his meteoric rise as painting virtuoso, constructor of 3D "peepshow" boxes, poet, and author of the watershed Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst, Rotterdam, 1678.

Look at his self-assuredness, look at the deftness with which he reveals the depths of 16-year-old van Hoogstraten's heavy-lidded eyes – and look at the meta-art of his sketches of Kurt Cobain, exact copies of those found in his meticulous journals! My heart floods with pleasure at this picture; indeed, in the company of fellow scholars at the Samuel van Hoogstraten symposium, I passed so many sweet hours at dinner discussing this very painting with some of the gentlest, most astute scholars I have met of late. (Paul Taylor, I will see you again – I'm practicing my checkers game now!)

Ah, there is much to say about van Hoogstraten. And I will say much more – in my research I have pored more over his art as of late than nearly any other painter! But let me give you this excerpt from the aforementioned Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst (I have been poring through so many primary sources in preparation for an upcoming publication, "Readymade Breakfasts in 16th Century Holland," in The Chicago Art Journal):
Let me give the reader a pause here, to I discuss a bit of my own childhood – in the hopes of raising the spirits of those young artists who read this book under their blankets at night, as I did, resisting the desires of parents who wish them to go into such professions as law and moneychanging; those young artists who must draw in their closets, as I did, at night, under secrecy.
So many hours I spent sitting in my own clothes closet, having stuffed the clothing under my bed and filled that tiny corner with records, easels, mortars and pestles, and my favorite Forever 27 poster (RIP, all). Indeed, drawing endless pictures of Kurt Cobain, taking deep puffs from a contraband bong (often my only confidant in these late hours), eating tonnes of Goldfish snacks – this was my ritual, my communion, my glimmer of hope in an awful, awful childhood. Keep your heads up, and keep hold of your brushes, fellows of Her Mistress Art!